OMI observations of the anomalous 2008 Southern Hemisphere biomass burning season
1Dept. of Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, USA
2Science Systems and Applications Inc., Lanham, Maryland, USA
3Center for Weather Forecasting and Climate Studies, INPE, Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil
4NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
Abstract. The 2008 season of biomass burning in the Southern Hemisphere was marked by a significant reduction in the number of fires in South America and, therefore, a large drop of the atmospheric load of carbonaceous aerosols over the subcontinent, relative to previous years, was registered by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument onboard the Aura satellite. In contrast, the 2008 copious aerosol production by fires in Central and Southern Africa generated an unusually large, synoptic scale aerosol layer that blanketed most of the tropical Southern Atlantic Ocean (0°–25° S) in August and September. Satellite observations on fire statistics and precipitation were analyzed to understand the anomalous Southern Hemisphere fire season. The fire reduction in South America was confined to Brazil that experienced a 62% reduction in fire activity in relation to 2007, and it was the result of factors other than meteorological reasons. The large spatial extent of the South Atlantic smoke layer seem to have been the result of unusually high free troposphere easterly winds that efficiently mobilized particulate matter thousands of kilometers away from the African source areas.